Frankie has had a rough few weeks. Not the "mansion-living" rough, it's the what-happen-to-perfect-sulcata-weather rough in Alabama. Most of the time, during the spring, summer and fall, sulcata tortoises like Frankie have the best of it down here in the South. Alabama isn't co-operating. Frankie is not happy.
This morning is the first morning in nearly three weeks that the sun is shining and there is not a cloud in the sky. Frankie likes this. The temperature will get up into the high 80's and Frankie can live with that. He is out there now walking all over the yard. No need to bask…ambient temperatures have him the perfect temperature. There is plenty of grass which Frankie is sure to start grazing before it gets too hot.
What he has been annoyed about is lots and lots of sneaky, unusual rain.
Alabama is making up for the drought of two years ago. Mother Nature has a timing problem because our lakes are full. No water rationing here. The trees and grass are green and happy.
But Frankie complains. For the last two weeks, we've been getting 70%-90% chance of rain every day.
Frankie is usually un-bothered with the non-stop kind of rain: He just hangs out in his shelter and waits for mom to bring him hay and carrots. Frankie is bothered when he is lured him out of the shelter with sun, settles himself in for a bask only to have clouds move in just as he gets comfy. He sits patiently as the clouds dodge his sunlight.
After waiting endlessly for enough sun to get through moving clouds, he is warm enough to begin his walk around the yard. But then the rain will start. Frankie will stop and sit wherever he happens to be in the yard expecting the rain to stop in just a few minutes.
The rain starts begins as a light shower and then in a few minutes changes to a major down pour. To late to change his mind about shelter, Frankie has no choice but to sit out the big rain. Poor fellow has been in the middle of the yard, next to a bush, by the back fence or even half way down the hill when all he can do is stop in his tracks. He hates it when rain gets in his eyes, so he sits there and is miserable.
Many of these down pours of rain will turn into a huge storms with lightening, thunder, and high winds. Frankie sits in place through it all because at this point, Mom can…well, would like to help, but due to Frankie's ever increasing size, can do nothing to save him.
On one occasion, Frankie was in an area low in the yard which quickly began filling with water. Between Frankie's refusal to move and his stubborn "it will pass in just a moment", the water quickly rose above his head. Much as Frankie thinks he can swim, he cannot. A panicked mom (by now you know this is ME!) threw caution to the wind (thunder, lightening, buckets of rain) and ran out to somehow save Frankie.
Because of his size, the best mom could do was sit in the water with Frankie and drag/push him out of the water and to the higher side of the "river". Mom got no thanks or anything…instead Frankie acted as though he expected to then be carried inside, dried off, given a dozen carrots and a heating blanket for his near death experience.
Soaked down to socks and undergarments, Mom said, "That is the best I can do. You just got to learn to come in out of the rain, Frankie."
When the downpour finely subsided, Frankie went back to the task of mowing the yard. Of course, after three weeks of hot steamy Alabama weather, Frankie will never be ahead of the growing grass. As always, mom will have to mow despite Frankie's insistence that the backyard is his domain. River or no river.